A Long Trip Down a Rocky Road

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, September 14, 2017, 1:32 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell* is going to be my most carefully composed, diligently examined, and thoroughly questioned novel to date. At the moment, I’m taking a break from the long slog of rewriting and reconsidering what will be my eighth novel. Twice I interrupted the process to write stock car racing novels, Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated. Partly it was because I found it delightful to invent brash young Barrie Jarman, and partly because Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell had me good and buffaloed.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

The racing novels took three months apiece. I started writing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell about fifteen months ago. Last winter, with the planned story nearing completion, I decided I should factor in the real-life election of Donald J. Trump. Of course, the new president in the book — who is not a character at all, just a reference – is named Martin J. Gaynes. The change in the novel isn’t about the man; it’s about the country. I’ll leave future readers to speculate on how Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would have ended had Gaynes not been elected.

The Barrie Jarman Adventures are fun. I hung around race tracks for twenty years professionally and for most of my life otherwise. I saw stock car racing as a grade-school kid, a teen, and a college student long before I started going to races to write about them. That’s why I made Barrie a brash combination of old and new. I’ve seen old and new.

(Steven Novak cover)

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a return to the tone of my other novels, all of which were more serious, complicated and ambitious. The heroes are likable but imperfect. The bad guys are horrible. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell jumps around like The Audacity of Dope and Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s even more conspiratorial than Forgive Us Our Trespasses. I drew from a couple of the short stories in Longer Songs. It’s my sixth novel in which someone plays guitar.

I play guitar.

Maybe this has taken so long because I’m getting more careful. Even while I was writing the racing novels, I was pondering the new ending. I kept editing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell while I was writing about Barrie Jarman. Without question, I’ve put more time into it than those that preceded it.

The first-person viewpoint – through the eyes of Barrie’s Uncle Charlie – taught me how to be funnier. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell may be the least funny of my novels. I’m back to “amusing,” not out-and-out “funny,” and third person. The racing novels cleared the “funny” bar, in my jaded estimation.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

As I close this blog and focus more on a Red Sox afternoon game, I’m about fifty pages from completing the fourth run-through of the existing text. I have shaved more than ten thousand words. Much of that was painful. A lot of it was entertaining but extraneous to the story.

I expect the new ending is going to be roughly a different ten thousand words from the ones I cut out. I’m hoping to get Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell out before the end of the year, but I haven’t rushed any other part of it, and I’m not going to rush the last, either.

I hope I’m evolving, not just this novel.

*Gets italics when it gets published.

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise). Or, just drop me a line and you can pay through PayPal.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written seven novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

(Gabe Whisnant photo)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

Write me at hutdut@duttonm@bellsouth.net or “message” me through social media.

 

 

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‘Life Gets Complicated’ for Fictional Stock Car Ace Barrie Jarman

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, August 23, 2017, 8:53 p.m.

The Clinton Chronicle was kind enough to run this today:

Just five months after the release of Lightning in a Bottle, Barrie Jarman is back in a sequel. Life Gets Complicated takes Barrie into the top level of FASCAR.

Monte Dutton’s seventh novel is the first linked to another.

By Monte Dutton

At the age of nineteen, Barrie has grown up in a hurry. He is poised at the edge of stock car racing stardom. He’s making ten times as much money as a year ago. He has a top-flight ride with a top-flight team in the top flight of the sport. He is exactly where he wants to be.

At the end of Barrie’s frantic first year, he parties with his girlfriend, Angela Hughston; his best friend, her brother Errol; his new pilot, Rafe Trujillo; his teammate, veteran Jay Higbe; his estranged father, Big Jim; and a boozing old relic from the sport’s past. He befriends a pro football player at a Las Vegas awards ceremony. Life is good, and Barrie’s no angel.

Uncle Charlie, his friend, companion, confidante and source of perspective, quietly tries to keep Barrie headed in the right direction.

Barrie confronts the distinct possibility that he is a corruptive influence on those around him. He has little doubt about his own capacity to straighten up. He’s worried about Errol, though, who’s getting more bad influence on the side. Errol doesn’t know that Barrie is in a position to help him. Barrie doesn’t know if Errol is ready for a chance to join the Jerry McCarley Enterprises driver lineup.

The first Barrie Jarman adventure. (Cover design by Steven Novak)

Then there’s the interracial romance, which isn’t a big deal to Barrie’s generation but is to some FASCAR fans.

When Barrie gets down to business, when he puts on his firesuit and climbs into Number 59, all seems well again. He puts his new Ford Fusion on the front row for the sport’s biggest race. Then he receives a crushing blow … literally.

Barrie has more riding on the upcoming races than those outside his circle of friends know. He has to race. He can’t call the cops. He can’t let FASCAR, the ruling body, know how badly he’s injured. He drops out of sight. While he receives treatment in a condo on the beach, a fake excuse for his absence is circulated. Other excuses show up in a gossip sheet that has targeted him for some reason.

Obviously, Barrie has enemies.

Pain steels his resolve. Like the icons he grew up idolizing, Barrie does what it takes.

To purchase Life Gets Complicated in paperback:

https://www.createspace.com/7475752

The Amazon link:

FICTION BY MONTE DUT TON

The Audacity of Dope (2011)

The Intangibles (2013)

Crazy of Natural Causes (2015)

Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016)

Longer Songs: A Collection of Short Stories (2016)

Cowboys Come Home (2016)

Lightning in a Bottle (2017)

Life Gets Complicated (2017)

Lightning in a Bottle, Life Gets Complicated, and Cowboys Come Home are on sale in uptown Clinton at both Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply. 

AUTHOR Q&A

Why so soon with the sequel?

“I guess it’s that old saying, or joke, or whatever. It was in me, and it had to come out.

“I never wrote a series before – this is the second ‘Barrie Jarman Adventure’ – because, by the time I got through with my first five novels, I didn’t want to write about the characters anymore.

“Barrie fascinates me. I spent twenty years writing about stock car racing. Maybe he’s a sportswriter’s wildest dream. He’s not particularly educated, but he’s highly intelligent. He’s mischievous because you can’t expect a kid who likes to race cars at breakneck speeds not to have a twinkle in his eye.”

What about the timing?

“It’s mainly a coincidence, but Life Gets Complicated does coincide with a total eclipse of the sun. If there’s something cosmic there, I hope it’s positive.

“It’s good to get it out in time for the Southern 500, my favorite race at my favorite track. NASCAR’s playoffs will begin soon.

“The timing is mainly the time. This is how long it took to get it finished. I rely on writing for a living. I need the righteous bucks. That’s powerful motivation.”

What is the significance of Barrie Jarman?

“He’s really good. He’s really interesting. He is a bridge between what racing wants and what racing needs. He’s determined. He’s ambitious. He races hurt.

“Racing requires lightning-fast reactions. Barrie makes those in every aspect of his life. He never considered the ramifications of having an African American girlfriend until after he fell in love with Angela Hughston. He doesn’t care whether the fans like it or not. He thinks they have a right to think whatever they want. Like him.

“Auto racing is in decline. Its fan base is aging. Barrie is a bridge between the working-class heroes of the past and the broadening diversity of the future. He has a soul that he doesn’t hide. NASCAR could use the hero that FASCAR has. I did all I could by inventing Barrie and FASCAR.”

Is Barrie based on a real person?

“No. He’s a composite of athletes I’ve observed. I spent twenty years around race drivers. These days, I do my share of free-lance writing about high school and college athletes. I’d say Barrie has no more in common with a racer than he does a … shortstop. I think he’s more typical of his generation than his sport.”

How do you expect the book to be received?

“The customer reviews of Lightning in a Bottle are the highest (currently 4.9 on a scale of 5) of any of my novels. I don’t see any reason why readers won’t like the Barrie Jarman of Life Gets Complicated any less.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Monte Dutton has lived most of his life in Clinton, South Carolina. He graduated from Furman University with a B.A. in political science and history.

For two decades, Dutton wrote about NASCAR as a newspaper reporter and columnist. He wrote At Speed, a collection of columns; Rebel with a Cause: A Season with NASCAR Star Tony Stewart; Postcards from Pit Road, an account of the 2002 season; Jeff Gordon: The Racer; and edited Taking Stock: Life in NASCAR’s Fast Lane.

Dutton’s first book, 1986’s Pride of Clinton, was a history of high school football in his hometown. His last non-fiction work was 2006’s True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed.

He still dabbles in sportswriting, writing a weekly NASCAR column at competitionplus.com. He also writes frequently about local sports in blogs and stories.

Life Gets Complicated is Dutton’s seventh novel.

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written seven novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

Daddy Downhill

(Monte Dutton sketch)

I haven’t had time to write short stories recently. With a seventh novel on the way to publication, and an eighth in an ongoing state of repair, I’ve been excising episodes from the latter manuscript. It’s hard to remove items that are amusing but unnecessary. It occurred to me that I could turn them into short stories.

Back home, life on the farm had never been laidback. John Denver didn’t grow up in Alabama.

By Monte Dutton

Mickey Statler lived in fear of winding up like his old man. He could feel the inevitability creeping up, drawing him inexorably toward his fate. He had always believed in free will. He was the master of his fate, not some legacy that lived on in the blood of the souls that followed.

As he sat on the patio of his fourth-floor apartment, Mickey pondered the sudden job loss, the collapse of his profession, the destruction of his security, and the realization of how frail it had always been.

Mickey was depressed. Not clinically depressed. Depressed for a damned good reason.

Naturally, he thought of his father, his symbol of wasted promise.

Mickey remembered a sweltering Saturday, Daddy charging into the house to find him curled up on a couch, watching the Atlanta Braves on The Superstation.

Daddy was hung over and resentful it was not he sitting in his easy chair, a bottle of vodka and another of grapefruit juice at his side, not watching some ballgame but something manly, something like Rock Hudson in Giant.

“Well, I’ll be goddamned,” his father bellowed, red-faced and sweaty. “We got a hog loose, rummaging through some woman’s garden on 208. The hole they squeezed under gotta be patched. The Appaloosa’s in foal. Ain’t nothing been fed. What are you doing? Sitting on your goddamned ass watching a goddamned baseball game.”

“I like things that are goddamned, Daddy,” he said, because he was fed up and couldn’t wait to get out of this man’s house.

It wasn’t all sad. Some of it was amusing, particularly now that Daddy was gone and it all seemed warmer, like the time he got so drunk that he accused Mama of having an affair with Burl Ives.

“Burl Ives!” Mickey laughed at the memory of his mother’s incredulous exclamation. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had been on TV. Burl had sung “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas,” and Daddy had been drinking, and somehow it all got intertwined.

Then Mickey’s thoughts zipped ahead a decade or so, when Mickey was covering preps in Burlington and drove all the way home for some reason, possibly his brother’s bachelor party, and walked into that house to find Daddy sitting on the same couch, now frayed and dirty, leaning forward, bottle of cheap vodka, no glass, on the table named for coffee. Ten o’clock in the morning.

CNN was playing the same clips over and over. BREAKING NEWS! Rock Hudson Suffering from AIDS.

Mickey sat down on the loveseat. Didn’t say a word. His eyes spoke. Soooo, Pop … what’s … the … deal?

Aging, older, now consumed in his alcoholism, father looked at son, eyes rolling, seeing the great Rock Hudson as the end of the world as he knew it.

“Back when me and your mama was datin’, I thought Rock Hudson was the biggest hero ever was. Come to find out, he was a goddamned faggot!” Harvey Statler’s whole body convulsed in anger. “Goddamn! Goddamn! Goddamn!”

Somehow it had become a pleasant memory. He laughed now, to himself, still having failed to find a viable alternative to Let’s Make a Deal.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Twenty more years had passed. His father was listed as a casualty of colon cancer. Mickey knew he had really drunk himself to death, the same as his father before him.

No one in the family seemed capable of getting over things. Everyone had surrendered to one habit, one vice, one substance, one woman, or another. Mickey had already outlived his father, so he had that going for him.

Prosperity was a lover, not a mate. Its pleasures were fleeting. The rain never stopped. The sun never shone. The weight of the world was no heavier than a pink slip. It cut like a knife.

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

 

 

 

Keep the Line Moving

Rockingham, North Carolina (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 11:15 a.m.

Yesterday I finished a manuscript. It’s just a first draft, but I doubt it will require much revision. Lightning in a Bottle just required two drafts. I think its sequel will, too.

By Monte Dutton

The other project nestled snugly in this laptop … ah, that’s a different matter. It’s through second draft, though now I’ve decided to write a new ending. It’s a new story, although I did draw on two old short stories while I was concocting it.

One cannot plagiarize oneself.

My goal is to get them both out by the end of the year. I don’t know which will come first. The stock car racing sequel, Life Gets Complicated (A Barrie Jarman Adventure), will be ready first, but I may hold it back for Christmas, or try to get it out in the fall and hold the crime novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, for Christmas.

I know I need to get more books out. I need the money. I have a job. It’s writing books. The income is erratic. I write free-lance stories to help me get by.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

If you haven’t read Lightning in a Bottle – and I’m painfully aware that many haven’t – now’s the time because, if you love stock car racing or even if you don’t, you’re going to be fascinated by Barrie Jarman, and one of the reasons is that I am. I raced through his first story, and I’m racing through this one, and I’ve finally created a character that maintains my interest for more than one book.

So get to know him by reading Lightning in a Bottle. That way I can draw you into my web of intrigue, and you’ll feel compelled to read another.

I don’t write romances, but I tend to romanticize the hopes for my novels. They never do as well as I hope.

Barrie Jarman started out on the dirt tracks. (Monte Dutton photo)

The immediate reason I wrote Lightning in a Bottle – in addition to one of those extraordinary brainstorms that always plant the seeds of my fiction — was that it gave me a more direct market through social media to spread its word. A large portion of my friends and followers know me from my many years writing about NASCAR for a living. I figured a novel about stock car racing would take the sport by storm. I thought racing writers would write reviews. A couple have.

Their ranks are thinner. They’ve got a lot more to do. Several wrote nice personal notes, though. Writers of books are not alone in suffering the decline of newspapers and their chronically short staffs.

By the way, I really appreciate those who have given the novel exposure. Twice, Mojo Nixon has allowed me to talk about the novel on his weekly SiriusXM radio show, “Manifold Destiny,” on NASCAR Channel 90. He’s read it. It’s not the first of my novels he’s read.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Barrie Jarman is a mixture of a throwback and a kid as modern as the cars he races. He feels a bit alienated because most of his peers come from backgrounds dramatically dissimilar to his own. Maybe that’s why his best friend, Errol Hughston, is one of few African Americans racing stock cars at FASCAR’s (FASCAR is the ruling body in the novel, and the tracks are in different places) highest level, and Barrie falls in love with Errol’s sister, Angela.

Our hero is smart, not to mention brash, proficient, and more than a little wild. He bristles at FASCAR’s interference from the first time he walks through a speedway gate. When Barrie fights authority, authority doesn’t always win.

Readers have frequently observed that they “couldn’t put it down.” For some reason, it has often taken them “two sittings.” It ended before they wanted it to.

Voila. Another reason for a sequel. I need to get about a thousand more readers so that the sequel can hit the Amazon running. Or swimming. In a boat. Beware the piranhas. Oh, never mind. It’s a website.

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

 

Invent the Track if You Must

Rockingham, North Carolina (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, April 7, 2017, 9:45 a.m.

A new novel’s out. It’s the one readers have been suggesting – hint, hint – I write for years. I’m hardheaded. I had to wait until it struck my fancy. It takes a story to write a novel, and it’s too damned hard to write one for which I have no love.

By Monte Dutton

Eventually, Barrie Jarman came along. I wish he’d been real when I was writing about stock-car racing week after week and airport after airport. For a writer, though, he’s probably too good to be true. That’s probably a reason to fiction. I needed to know someone like Barrie, so I invented him, and I didn’t even use a Playstation. Or a Wii. Or whatever they have now.

I don’t know why Barrie showed up. It could be that, after four years away, I began pining for the occasional trip back to the track. I put out a few overtures: “William Tell,” “The Ruins of Athens,” “The Merry Widow.” A few expressed interest and offered discount subscriptions to websites and the like. I haven’t called them. I hoped they’d call me.

As a stock car racing beat reporter, I’m a known commodity. If anyone wanted me – besides, at present, the Competition Plus website — I’d know it.

I can’t figure out whether journalism died or just became dead to me.

Well, back to the plot at hand.

Lightning in a Bottle may have occurred to me because stock car racing was occurring to me at the time, and when nothing to do occurred, I subconsciously, in a Freudian state, started writing a novel about stock car racing. I started writing it on January 15 and it was available to the public via the miracle of Amazon.com and CreateSpace on March 29.

Sales have started to pick up. Word is getting around. If enough people read it – I’m just getting word from a few who have finished it – it’s going to be a sensation. Some are going to be inspired. Some are going to be amused. Some are going to be infuriated. I expect some are going to be privately amused while publicly infuriated.

All possibilities are within the righteous realm of a free society. One must accept the consequences if he expects to reap the rewards.

As my late father used to say, “Son, don’t do nothing half-assed,” though, in fact, he did quite a few things that way. He wanted his older son to do better. His younger son already was. My dad didn’t care if I could write a lovely paragraph. He wanted me to play ball better.

I made it up to him later by writing about people who played ball better.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Since I read the Kindle version and breathed a sigh of relief, I’ve been either wasting my time doing nothing or trying like hell to jumpstart Lightning in a Bottle. One man’s tweet is another’s promotion. The day before yesterday, I wrote 3,000-plus words of new fiction, but mainly I’ve been firing off blurbs like:

“Even if you’re running neck-and-neck with somebody for 5th place, it’s still fun.” #fiction #motorsports https://www.amazon.com/Lightning-Bottle-Monte-Dutton/dp/1544840306/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Meanwhile, in college backetball, the Carolinas prevailed, North in men’s and South in women’s. Entering an afternoon game in Detroit, the Red Sox are 2-0 with a rainout. Somebody is undoubtedly leading the Masters, even as these words are written. Rapid Roy and all the Stock Car Boys are roaring about deep in the heart of Texas.

I’ve got a rerun of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on.

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

 

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

 

 

The Big Surprise Is Here

(Cover Art by Steven Novak)

 

By Monte Dutton

This blog is a news release. I’m sending it out to many people. Why am I making it available to you? Perhaps you have news to disseminate. Perhaps you have a blog. Perhaps you follow mine. Perhaps you are on social media. Perhaps you like reading. Perhaps you like fiction. Perhaps you like motorsports. Perhaps you can help me spread the word in some form, via reviews and references and shares and follows.

I hope you will consider giving me a little help. I’ve got a lot riding on this sixth novel of mine.

 

MONTE DUTTON’S NEW NOVEL TAKES STOCK CAR RACING BY STORM

The secret is out. It’s an April Fool’s prank. Only this one is real.

Many readers have requested it. It matches Monte Dutton’s generally acknowledged field of expertise. His sixth novel, Lightning in a Bottle, is about stock car racing.

Barrie Jarman is the hope of racing’s future because he is a link to its past.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

The teen-aged native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, is talented, articulate, intelligent, brash, and mischievous. To the image-conscious braintrust that runs the sport, Barrie is a wild Mustang – and, yes, he drives one – who must be broken.

Ain’t no way.

The yarn is told mostly through the narration of Uncle Charlie, a racing veteran who took in Barrie at age 16 and helped him get a shot at the big time. Only Charlie, it seems, can nudge Barrie in the right direction, and only Charlie knows when it’s time to get out of his way.

This novel, Dutton says, began as a shot in the dark. “I have another novel that is almost complete. One night in January, I was down in the dumps for a variety of reasons and had a sleepless night. Most of it was just brainstorming. Some of it I probably dreamed. I finally got up, gave up on sleeping, put some coffee on, and sat down to write the Prologue because I didn’t want to lose it.”

Writing the entire novel took less than three months. He finished it in two drafts. In the past, it took three. An editor agreed that it was ready.

Meanwhile, Dutton kept it a secret.

“That’s probably part of the reason I got it done so quickly,” he said. “I want this to be a complete surprise. Only three people know anything about it. One is the editor. Another is a close friend. The third is my mother.”

Until … now.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Dutton crisscrossed America for 20 years, writing about automobile racing. After authoring several sports books, the Clinton, South Carolina, resident and Furman University graduate turned to fiction.

“I’ve had a really good March in sales,” he said. “At the beginning of the month, my worldwide author rank on Amazon was about 220,000, it was 14,000 the last time I looked. In literary fiction, I went from 7,294 to 573.

“That doesn’t mean I’m doing great, but it means that all the books are creating people who want to read the others. My social-media following is heavy on race fans. That’s why so many have expressed to me their desire to have me write a racing novel. I didn’t ever have a great aversion to it. I just needed a story that excited me. I just needed a sleepless night.”

Here’s a homemade video about the book.

Monte Dutton may be reached via email at duttonm@bellsouth.net or by phone at (704) 913-1143.

 

 

(Joe Font cover design)

FICTION BY MONTE DUTTON

The Audacity of Dope (2011)

The Intangibles (2013)

Crazy of Natural Causes (2015)

Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016)

Longer Songs: A Collection of Short Stories (2016)

Cowboys Come Home (2016)

Lightning in a Bottle (2017)

 

(Melanie Ryon cover design)

AUTHOR Q&A

What was the inspiration for Lightning in a Bottle?

“I guess I was doing the kind of off-season meditation that any fan goes through when the tracks are silent. I thought about how racing had changed during the twenty years I wrote about it. I thought about how much more colorful the big names – Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, Darrell Waltrip – were back then. I thought, what would happen if a kid came along with the spirit and background of those guys? A kid with that old-time folksiness but the attitude of the present generation? My first thought was, ‘Why, they’d eat him alive,’ and away I went.”

Why no racing novels until now?

“I still write about it on a website and my own blog. Until recently, I wrote a weekly column at Bleacher Report. The commentary sort of filled my urge to write about racing. Besides, I wrote a number of non-fiction books about racing while on the beat. I was never averse to it. The first novel, The Audacity of Dope, was descended from a manuscript with a racing theme that I discarded.

“The simple truth is I didn’t have a story about racing that I loved until this one showed up one sleepless night.”

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Why do you think Lightning in a Bottle will sell?

“Where I’m concerned, sales is a relative term. Last year’s Forgive Us Our Trespasses is by far my biggest seller, and all of my novels are moving along. I think I’m gaining a reliable, loyal, if still relatively small, following.

“Now, racing fans are not widely known as voracious readers. The question is whether or not they will be interested in racing fiction. I think many of them will be, and they turn my promotional reach from bad to good. Of the roughly 10,000 people who follow me in various forms of social media – this figure accounts for the overlap, by the way — probably about 70 percent are interested in auto racing. They identify with me for my opinions about the sport more than my fiction and other interests. They know my views about the sport. They are sympathetic to my established views.

“I think – and my editor backs me up on this – the story will also be interesting to readers of both my other novels and other novels in general. Lightning in a Bottle has the same spirit, the same irreverence, the same frankness, as the first five. I don’t think you have to be a racing fan to enjoy it, and I hope I can get you to give it a try. Maybe expanding my novel to a wider audience will expose racing to a wider audience, but I wouldn’t pretend to have any such influence. I’m just a struggling author trying to make a buck.”

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Why the secrecy?

“That’s why I self-published it. I didn’t even try to find a publisher. I didn’t want anyone to know about it. It’s quite a relief, getting this great secret, this great surprise, off my chest.

“I haven’t ever indicated that I would consider writing a novel about auto racing. It was an abrupt decision. I didn’t know I was doing it till I did it. I decided it ought to be a shocker. It was a shocker to me. Why not?

“Now it want it to take the racing world by surprise. I want it to have shock value. I want people to say, ‘Wow, look at this!’ and, maybe, ‘Holy #@*!’

How do you expect the book to be received?

“Some are going to love it. Some are going to be offended. What I hope everyone recognizes in Lightning in a Bottle is honesty. I have followed auto racing since I was seven years old. In all the time I’ve written about it, I’ve criticized it because I loved the sport, not because I hated it. I think my readers always got that, and I think they’ll get it now.

“I think Barrie Jarman is what stock car racing needs. That’s why I invented him.”

cowboyshome_fullcvr343-page-001

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

 

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

 

 

 

The Winter Solstice of Our Content

winter-solstice-kindle-cover-copy-copy

 

I raced right through Winter Solstice, a compilation of short stories by Kindle Press authors.

Part of the reason I raced through was that two of the stories, “Strange Bedfellows” and “Chance Chills,” are mine. I’m lying. They were the first two I read. When an author reads stories he wrote, and he hasn’t thought about them since he submitted them, first it’s scary and then it’s a relief.

Who knew? My story ain’t half bad.

I’m certainly not objective about my own work, but my stories revisit characters in my two Kindle Press novels, Crazy of Natural Causes (2015) and Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016).

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

“Chance Chills” takes Chance Benford back to Hollywood, where he appears on the TV show where Crazy of Natural Causes ended, two years earlier. Hal Kinley, the hero of Forgive Us Our Trespasses, runs for sheriff of Rollison County, and finds some unlikely support, in “Strange Bedfellows.”

If you read those novels, I expect you’ll enjoy catching up with characters you met there, and if you haven’t, I expect you might want to read the novels from which they sprung.

That, of course, is the plan. Not my plan. The plan mastermind is Lincoln Cole, who edited and compiled it. He and I are joined among the contributors by our colleagues Linda Cassidy Lewis, Jessica Knauss, Jacqueline Ward, Ann Omasta, Jada Ryker, Fiona Quinn, Katherine Hayton, and Teresa Roman.

Winter Solstice – you can download it for free here – is divided into sections: Romance; Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense; and Literature & Fiction. “Strange Bedfellows” is in the third section, and “Chance Chills” is the lone entry in the fourth.

I’m not that interested in all those genres, but I read every story and there wasn’t one I didn’t enjoy.

Besides, it’s free, and, so, what have you got to lose? Winter Solstice is perfect for knocking out one story while you’re eating out, alone, and need to kill some time before the nice lady brings the Tuesday Night Special, and if I don’t finish it, I read it before I pay the bill. It’s perfect for an airport layover, or for guys like me who are annoyingly punctual by nature, having nothing but friends who are fashionably late, and find themselves with a half hour to kill on a bench outside a ballgame, a table at a  coffee shop, or a waiting room where either themselves or their automobiles are being serviced.

I will read several books that were introduced to me in the pages of Winter Solstice. Wouldn’t it be something if others were similarly inspired by one of my submissions?

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Cowboys Come Home, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written five novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

Crazy of Natural Causes is on Amazon sale all month for $.99.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

My new novel is a western, Cowboys Come Home. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

 

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

cowboyshome_fullcvr343-page-001
(Design by Steven Novak)